Purchasing a UTV: 5 Things to Consider

Utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) may be used for a variety of purposes. Although similar to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), which are mostly used for recreation, UTVs tend to be purchased with a purpose in mind, whether it’s hunting or hauling slabs of granite for your business, just for example.

And because they are designed for utility rather than fun, they most often feature items that ATVs may lack, like side-by-side seating, a covered roof, and a windshield (not to mention seatbelts). They also have the capacity to haul a lot more weight thanks to cargo areas made for this task. And their low center of gravity makes them much sturdier and better suited for hauling equipment or whatever you need to transport from point A to point B. If you’re in the market for a UTV, chances are you have a good reason, but there are certainly things you’ll want to consider before you lay out the cash.

1.      Where you’re going. Although UTVs are made for rough terrain and even off-road driving in some situations, you need to think very carefully about where you plan to take your vehicle, especially if it’s laden with heavy equipment or other items. Whereas a lightweight ATV might do great zipping over sand dunes, a much heavier UTV is a lot more likely to sink and get stuck. And all that torque will do you no good if your wheels are spinning in sand, snow, or mud. So before you assume that your UTV can do everything your ATV can, you need to understand its capabilities and think about where you’re planning to take it off-road.

2.     What you’re hauling. If you have a fair notion of what’s going into the back of your truck (say, if you’re using it for business purposes), it should help you to decide on the right vehicle for you. Every UTV will come with spec sheets on the size of the truck bed and the weight capacity, which could be around half a ton (not including driver and passengers). But you need to do your homework if you’re going to buy the perfect UTV for your needs.

3.      Passenger capacity. Some UTVs have bucket seats for two while others feature a bench seat or even a back seat in the cab to handle more passengers. If you’re running your own gardening service you might benefit from having an extended cab to ferry around your entire crew. But if it’s just you cleaning pools, a two-seater might be good enough.

4.     Safety features. As noted above, you’ll likely find many standard safety features in your average UTV, including seat belts and perhaps even a roll bar or similar protective device. There will likely be airbags, as well, although you might want to add curtain or side airbags if they’re not already installed. And don’t forget about the truck bed. By adding rails, a cage, or other bracing walls that you can attach straps and clamps to, you can make sure your cargo is firmly secured while in transit.

5.      Cost. Whether your UTV purchase is intended for recreational purposes or it’s related to business needs, at some point your decision to purchase a particular vehicle will come down to cost. You can find all the specs and points of comparison in a UTV Guide, so this might be a good place to start when it comes to narrowing down your search.

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